A Double Dose of the Holy Ghost: Barry’s Recovery Story
Barry was a college athlete. After three kids and life began to move faster, he began to medicate uncomfortable moments with alcohol. Casual drinking snowballed into full-blown addiction, and Barry lost his marriage and career. Things got worse post-divorce, and he turned his back on key relationships, finding himself alone on Christmas Day with a half-gallon of vodka as his only companion. Listen to find out how a double dose of the Holy Ghost at Mission at the Cross saved Barry’s life.
This episode was recorded at Blue Sky Studios on December 1, 2022.
Season 5, Episode 1 (Episode 51)
A Double Dose of the Holy Ghost: Barry’s Recovery Story
Craig Robertson: All right look, I was a big fan of this TV show called Cheers that ran from 1982 to 1993, and there was a popular spinoff called Frazier. And the fictional main character was a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, who had his own radio show, where people with mental health issues would call in, and Frazier would help solve their problems.
His catchphrase was, “I’m listening.” Believe it or not, this show was still running after I became an attorney, and I always imagined as I got into doing divorce work that a call-in radio show would be so entertaining. But fast forward to the popularization of podcasts, and in 2019 when Matt and I were ready to start our own show.
So, I’m gonna do it yourself kind of guy. So I bought a hundred-dollar Yeti microphone, and I did a few test runs using the Garageband app on my computer. And I’ll be honest, I was quickly overwhelmed at the time, skill, concentration, and energy that it took to create something, and I was just not proud of what I was able to put together. I did not think it represented the professionalism that our clients expect from us. Whether you need a fantastic editor, a partner in production, and a custom sound designer like us, a turnkey solution that integrates with your marketing strategy, reach out to Casey and Blue Sky to see how they can partner with you to bring your podcast idea to life. In the show notes, we have a link to a free guide. If you want to learn more about what they do or you can visit them online at blueskypodcasting.com.
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Craig Robertson: Hey guys, Craig Robertson here on behalf of my law partner Matt Easterling. Welcome to today’s podcast. One of the things I’m trying to do more of in 2023 is to practice gratitude. Today, I’m feeling very grateful. We’ve dropped over 50 episodes of the Robertson and Easterling podcast, and more and more of you are taking this journey with us. On behalf of everyone who helps make this podcast possible, thanks for listening.
Matt and I are also grateful for our sponsors. These are Mississippians who are making a difference. Adam Black is a real estate collaboration specialist with First Commercial Bank focusing on divorce mortgage management in today’s real estate mortgage market more than ever having a mortgage specialist on your team, who can walk through the lending process is critically important, especially for someone facing big changes in their life.
We’re also sponsored by Kelly Engelman, Mississippi’s leading functional medicine provider. Kelly and her team take a revolutionary food-first approach to health and vitality at Enhanced Wellness Living. They are located right around the corner from us in Old Town Ridgeland.
We also want to introduce you to Rocks to Rivers, an adventure-based coaching organization, with an emphasis on big living. Let my friends Brandon and Bill lead you or your organization on one of their life-changing trips that incorporate outdoor adventure with therapy and life coaching. These guys are fantastic.
And finally, we want to thank the people who we partner with to bring you this show, Blue Sky Podcasting. Casey and the guys at Blue Sky provide us a turnkey solution to producing this show. They make us sound better than we are, and they can help you build your own podcast from vision casting to dropping your show across multiple platforms just like ours.
Guys, what you’re about to hear is a special conversation I had with an old friend of mine. He’s a former Mississippi State baseball teammate, who has been on a journey for the last 10 years, honestly, I don’t think any of us would want to trade places with him. I get emotional thinking about the conversation I had with my friend, and I really cannot wait to share it with you. I know it’s going to impact your life just like it has impacted mine.
Okay guys, again much gratitude for carving out this time to be with us, and it’s time to sit back, relax, and take a deep breath. Everything’s going to be okay. You found us, and what you’re about to hear is going to help.
Well guys welcome to the podcast today, I’m with an old friend, and it’s rare that I get this opportunity and this environment, but I’m with my friend Barry. And Barry has got an amazing journey that he’s been on, and I’ll be honest with you, this is a journey about recovery and sobriety. And some of my favorite people are those people that have made that type of journey because they are so real, authentic, connected, and in touch with who they are. And so it’s a real privilege, Barry, to have you with me today.
Barry: Craig, I appreciate it, man. Yeah, you said it’s a long journey, but, I guess, I wouldn’t wanna be anywhere else than today sitting here telling you my story. The way I look at this is if you can help one person or anybody that struggles with alcohol or addiction and recovery. That’s why I’m here.
Craig Robertson: Well, I am positive that the words you speak today are gonna touch somebody’s life. So Barry, let’s back up though. I’m fascinated by people’s life stories. It’s really my favorite thing about being a divorce lawyer. So tell me your story, and give our listeners and me kind of a refresher on where you came from.
Barry: Well, I was born in Laurel and moved to Hattiesburg. My mom grew up a single mother probably till I was seven or eight. Great mom. Then she married my stepdad, my real dad really wasn’t in my life until later in my life, which is great now.
Craig Robertson: So were your parents never married to each other?
Barry: They were for a short time. I think they got divorced when I was like two, but for most of my childhood, I remembered my mother: a hard worker, and a school teacher who worked two or three jobs. Both sets of grandparents, even after my dad and my mother divorced, his parents, my grandparents from his side, were highly involved. So I mean, I was always with one set of grandparents, which was cool.
Craig Robertson: and now when you say dad, you’re talking about-
Barry: My real dad.
Craig Robertson: Your biological dad.
Barry: It was my mom and me for 5, 6, or 7 years, and then she met a guy named Scott, my stepdad, and he was great. They got married, and then we moved to Hattiesburg for a little bit and then onto Clinton. It was great.
Craig Robertson: How old were you when your mom got married?
Barry: I was probably nine or 10 maybe. He treated me just the same as he did my two half-brothers. And then grew up in Clinton, went to Clinton High School, getting old now 47, graduated 93, and that’s kind of where you and I met on the baseball field playing against each other.
Craig Robertson: Yeah, but you were a pitcher though, so
Barry: I wasn’t a real athlete as our good Coach Polk used to say. You were tough to try to get out.
Craig Robertson: I appreciate you sayin’ that.
Barry: Wingfield days.
Craig Robertson: Yeah. So, you’re lefty though.
Craig Robertson: My dad was a left-hander, and I do a couple of things left-handed, but I think I would’ve been better suited to be a left-hander.
Barry: I do everything left-handed, whether it be golf or eat, and I have three kids not a one of ’em do anything left-handed. It’s not my lack of trying, but-
Craig Robertson: Well, maybe that’s a baseball thing, but lefties if you don’t know this, and if you are one, they’re just wired a little differently.
Barry: A little quirky everbody. I can probably say that myself, but when we played at State together there were some left-handed guys who were like not sure everything was all the way up there.
Craig Robertson: Oh, that’s a fact. Well, the weirdest people on any college campus are no offense to anybody, in the psychology department, the art department, and on the baseball team.
Barry: Yes, so we were back very superstitious about everything.
Craig Robertson: Back in the days of gold chains and Camaros, it was a lot of fun. But in fact, I was a walk-on baseball player at Mississippi State and played with some fantastic guys, but I realized that my playing days were over. I went on to law school and did that. Barry, you played in the College World Series.
Barry: I did. I guess our junior and senior, we were fortunate to make it to Omaha ’97 ‘’98. And it’s tough. And unfortunately, we came back without the trophy, but I know we’re all on a group text of guys. I guess when the dogs finally won it. I know I’ve talked to several guys, but I’m like I sitting here watching the TV crying like a little baby.
It’s like a brotherhood even though those guys are 20 years younger than us or 25 years, but it is just for the whole team and the whole program. You reference great guys some of the guys, my best friends are guys I played with at State, and kind of my journey reached out to me, and it goes back to Coach Polk and that brotherhood that you build as a teammate.
Craig Robertson: Yeah, I think every human being needs meaning and belonging. And that is something that organized athletics provides. It provides a tribe of people who are on a mission together.
Barry: That’s right.
Craig Robertson: And that’s just what really the essence of life really is about. But Barry you know I have struggled, I actually wrote an article about it, that you can find on our website, it’s called A Touch of Gray about me coming to grips with not being an athlete and actually divorcing baseball for a long time, and then just rekindling my love affair with the sport that I felt rejected by because I had taken my ability as far as I could take it.
And then I just moved on and just cut myself off from that world. And so part of my growth has been reconnecting not only with my former teammates, but just the game in general. And as a lifelong Mississippian seeing Mississippi State and then Ole Miss Win back to Back College World Series and even connect with the professional game. It’s just something just beautiful and magical about the game of baseball.
But I’m curious for you, Barry, we’re talking about recovery today, and anybody who has been on any team at a college or any level really. There’s some partying that goes on, but I want to hear from you about your journey after you were no longer an athlete because that is your identity for so long as a young man. And then it’s over.
Barry: Just with a snap of a finger. It’s over. I can remember sitting in that dugout in Omaha. I’m like, it’s done. It’s over. Cause I love it when people, and you can appreciate this, “Why didn’t you make it to the major leagues?” I would’ve loved to. I just wasn’t good enough. It took me just, that’s my answer. I’ve got my youngest son; he’s a senior, and he’s getting recruited right now. My oldest son played at Mississippi Gulf Coast, and he decided it was time. He’s at Mississippi State finishing up his degree, and I think he was fine with it. I’m honest for three or four months, I think I was in a deep depression. He finally was like Dad, it’s okay.
Craig Robertson: Right.
Barry: It’s done. I’m tired of it. I’m not good enough to play where I want to play. And it took a 21-year-old telling me it’s gonna be okay.
Craig Robertson: That’s funny. We did a podcast where we talked about the parentification of children. You can listen back to that exactly. As a competitive sports dad. I’m a volleyball dad too, but I get it.
Barry: Yeah. I remember him looking at me with big tears in his eyes, and he was like you told me since I was seven or eight when it’s not fun anymore, it’s time to hang it up. And he’s like, I’m just not having fun anymore. Going back, I think your question was what happens when you’re not a baseball player? I can remember like, what do I do? Thankfully had my degree in business and was able to get a job, but I was just like, so I have to get up and do this, and you referenced kind of having a bitterness towards baseball. I was kinda like that myself. I probably didn’t go back to a Mississippi State baseball game probably three, four, or five years after. We graduated and it was like that. I don’t know if it hurt too much or if I used to be “that cool” and now I’m just a nobody, but in the realm of things you are. It’s just that ego too as baseball players. I tell people, and you may agree or not we’ve met a ton of athletes, especially playing at state whether it be pro or some of the most arrogant, egomaniacs are baseball players.
Craig Robertson: Yeah. I’m not gonna comment on that. Too many people will agree.
Barry: Well, I love ’em all, but, you know-
Craig Robertson: Well it’s funny, I think back, I won’t say the name of the player, but there was a guy who was a stud that we played with. And I can remember being at an alumni game 10 years after we had stopped playing and a manager with a clipboard, and the guy was in the batting cage taking BP, and the manager looked at me and goes, now who’s that? It’s like this guy was the man when we were there. But let’s focus on you, Barry. So talk about your journey baseball’s over. You actually married your college sweetheart, right?
Barry: Yeah, we actually met in high school, grew up in church together, and dated at State on and off. And then, I graduated I guess in May of ’98, and we got married in August of that year.
Craig Robertson: So you were a young man.
Barry: Yeah 23 when I got married, but there were a lot of us on the baseball team up there. I think it was in four or five weddings that summer, and we had all dated, and we were just like Hey, that’s what you do. You graduate and get married. You go to work, you start a family, and that’s kind of what I did. And we moved back to Clinton, we had three kids, and I guess when we lived in South Carolina for a little while, we both were in the pharmaceutical sales business. We had a good marriage I guess we were married for 15 years.
Craig Robertson: When did things go off track?
Barry: Probably after like 10 years or so, I would say.
Craig Robertson: What happened?
Barry: I think we just grew apart, to be honest with you. We moved away to Greenville, South Carolina, which was great. I highly suggest it, I’m not a marriage counselor at all, but it was great to kind of get out and get away from everybody both sides of parents. And you kinda learn and grow and have to make grown-up decisions. But we moved back and we talk now, my ex-wife and I, and I can remember you get so busy with kids. I mean, we had three and ours were bam, bam, bam. And were involved in everything. My oldest son, I was coaching in football and baseball and we started traveling. All the travel ball and my ex-wife was with my daughter. She was into dance and cheer. And I can remember one time it was literally five weekends in a row. We had not seen each other.
And you kind of get back, you’re like, we don’t really know each other, you know? I’ve made that a priority. Now, moving forward whether you’re 50 years old or 20, make time for each other, I mean the person I’m involved with now; she’s great, and we have five kids in between us, but it’s awesome. But sometimes you have to go somewhere and just by yourself.
Craig Robertson: Was there a time that you started medicating?
Barry: I did. Kind of going back, you talked about partying in school, and it goes on everywhere. The drinking, and all kinds of stuff that we didn’t even know about when we were there, it’s really scary.
Craig Robertson: And it’s recorded forever online.
Barry: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I drank as we all did. It stayed, I guess. I don’t ever remember being, remember coach Polk who was one of the don’t be that guy they talk about the next morning. I don’t think I ever was like that.
Craig: I agree with that, Barry. I don’t think you ever were,
Barry: and I can remember when I admitted I had a problem. I had several really close friends.
Craig Robertson: Well let’s talk, let’s be specific about that. Talk about what was the drug of choice, and how did it manifest itself in your daily life?
Barry: Alcohol and I was specific. I liked whiskey, bourbon, and vodka. I never was a beer, it just didn’t give me, and I don’t know the in and outs of it, and I have heard what different alcohols make you feel. I just, love the way whiskey made me feel and vodka.
Craig Robertson: And was it something that the speed of life had gotten so fast that you were using that to medicate or
Barry: Craig, I’ve been asked this question. It’s funny you asked me that when I decided to finally get sober, we’ll get into that in a little while, but the place I went to and my first question, why did you drink? And I did not have the best attitude when I went there. And I was like, is this when I’m supposed to break down and start crying? I drank because I liked it. But What caused it? I mean, I grew up in a great family. Of course, my parents were divorced, but I mean, my stepdad loved me. My mom loved me. I think I just, my marriage and all that, and I just started drinking just to numb it, and it worked for me. I thought it was working, and I thought it would make all the problems go away. As we all know or most people have dealt with addiction or recovery. It just makes it all worse and just starts snowballing.
Craig Robertson: So you were using, it sounds like it’s taken a little while to come to some awareness because-
Barry: Oh yes.
Craig Robertson: I drank because I like to drink.
But you also described you’re young, you’re married, and you’ve got three kids that were really close in age with one another, and I know that some parents who are listening to this can understand and agree that life tends to speed up when you are facilitating the activities of your children and getting them to the places that they need to go. It’s just life is a lot simpler before kids.
Barry: Absolutely, we can look back I don’t even remember not having kids. I’m like, it must have been boring. I’m sure you and Rachel can talk about that. It’s just like-
Craig Robertson: but you said you were using it to numb. How did that manifest itself? It was at what point did you start hiding it?
Barry: I can specifically remember like I knew when I had a problem. Of course, I knew I had a problem many years before actually admitted to it, and deep down anytime we had to go to something like a family event or if I had to be around people. Not saying I didn’t like them. They probably didn’t like me either, but just to be around it, I’ll drink, have a few drinks before and for years nobody ever knew.
Craig Robertson: And so, anytime what I’m hearing you saying is anytime that you had to step into something that was the least bit uncomfortable, you felt like you needed to numb yourself.
Barry: That’s well said. I like that. That is absolutely correct. I couldn’t have said it any better. It was as if I was kind of dreading something, it was like I’ll have a few drinks. Get through it, and then that turns into I’m gonna drink. And Craig, I got to a point. I laugh at this now. I couldn’t even go work in the yard without mixing a drink. And it’s so funny now. Coming up in January, it’ll be three years since I had my last drink.
Craig Robertson: Man, that’s good.
Barry: I know. I’m like is that real? I literally could not do anything without, now I could, in my mind, I’m like, man, I gotta have a drink to do this, or I’ve got to knock the edge off to-
Craig Robertson: Was it anxiety? Were you unhappy? Can you articulate that now as you sit here today?
Barry: I think it was a combination. I think. And I’m sure my ex-wife, she wasn’t happy either. I mean, I probably was not the best husband looking back on it. I guess I don’t have the answer. It was just, we were both just unhappy, and she rarely drinks. Still does not, and we can get into this, but women are, in my opinion, a lot tougher than men are. In different ways that at least half of our listeners will agree with that. Yes. I know I would cope, and that’s just the way I cope with it.
Craig Robertson: Barry, I’m interested, and I’m gonna challenge you with this. What behavior, let’s say your daughter grows up and marries somebody just like dad. And starts down the road, and there’s some concerning behavior around alcohol. What would you tell her to look for? What were your behaviors that started to spin outta control?
Barry: I wish she was sitting here ’cause I wouldn’t have to tell her anything.
Craig Robertson: She already knows?
Barry: Oh my gosh. She’s 19 now. Our relationship is awesome now. I’ll never forget back right before I went to rehab, she was just like, “If you ever drink again, I’m never talking to you.” And my boys were they didn’t really want to talk about it.
And we were still kind of good, but I knew deep down our relationship was bad. But I just remember her, and she meant it too. I mean you can look at somebody, and they mean it, they’re done. And I’ve learned when women when tell you they’re done, they’re done.
Craig Robertson: Yeah, half our listeners are gonna agree with that.
Barry: Yes. And I’m sure they’ll agree, but just the hiding things I never was physically abusive at all, but just would say some just hateful things that I have heard now. I’m like, that doesn’t even sound like me.
Craig Robertson: Well, it really wasn’t though.
Barry: Yeah, not to make excuses, I have no sympathy for the blame game cause I did it. And I blame my kids. I blamed my ex-wife. I blamed her family, blamed my dad for not being in my life. At the end of the day, nobody held me down and made me drink. And I had a great job, I tell people I lived a great life. Got to play baseball at Mississippi State. Nobody’s really gonna feel sorry for me. I felt sorry for myself until I met some people who called me out. And that’s, the way I needed to be. But to answer your question, I don’t think I would have. I think she would know. I think she would probably see it before I would, to be honest with you.
Craig Robertson: Barry, when did things start to unravel in your marriage?
Barry: Probably 2013.
Craig Robertson: So you guys had been married for probably 14 years. And so how did it manifest itself?
Barry: Just lying, man. We knew each other since, gosh, third or fourth grade. She would get mad if you’ve been drinking. Don’t ask me that. Well, I would just fall off the handle and-
Craig Robertson: Fly off the handle and gaslighting like, I can’t believe you would ask me that.
Barry: Oh yeah, I was the most no, I don’t have a problem which deep down I did, and she knew it. And then we really started having problems. And actually, we talked and went to some counseling, and I agreed to go to outpatient rehab here in Jackson and did the 30-day deal.
But I wasn’t ready. I’m not the smartest person in the world, but I picked rehab. It was led by physicians. My background, 10 to 15 years is calling on doctors. I know how to talk to ’em. I know what they want to hear for the most part. I walked in there that 30 days and didn’t drink for 30 days. Took the alcohol tests and they’re like great here’s your certificate. You’re doing great. I mean, I was drinking within 10 days.
Craig Robertson: Really? So you did an IOP, but you kind of knew the language. Oh, yeah. Knew what to do. Knew what to say.
Craig Robertson: And you kind of game the system.
Barry: I did.
Craig Robertson: And was that just to please your wife?
Barry: Of course. I wasn’t ready to stop drinking. I had not, you know, the old saying hit rock bottom. I thought I had, and it took, we got divorced in 2015, separated, and I think we’re gonna probably try to work it out. And I just went a totally different direction. I went, you know what? You thought I drank bad and acted crazy. I probably four years it was just, and I know you were along the journey of it, but I would get the look from you. A lot of my friends like, when people look at you, you’re like, you look terrible, but you don’t really-
Craig Robertson: Right.
Barry: Now I see that when I look at people, and I guess it was. It’s a miracle. I’m sitting here today.
Craig Robertson: So let’s talk about that, Barry. Your marriage falls apart and instead of taking that as a wake-up call to get sober and to get things together. You dove further into addiction and had to medicate more than you were in just these uncomfortable life situations. At what point did you hit rock bottom?
Barry: Craig, when I tell you I alienated everybody in my life? I’ve probably spent the last two and a half years apologizing. That’s part of the whole process, right?
Craig Robertson: Yeah. Making amends.
Barry: Speaking of that, some people who are dealing with this and kind of coming out of recovery, just starting their journey, I have never, I’ve not had one person that shut the door in my face and told me, leave me alone. I hate you if you do sincerely apologize for the people you hurt. But to go by, when I hit rock bottom, it was the end of 2019. I had lost a job and had moved back to Laurel. We’ve got a farm outside of Laurel. My grandmother, who love her to death, she’ll be 95 on Christmas day and is still sharp as a tack. And so, I was like I’m gonna go live with her. There’s no way she knows I’m drinking.
Craig Robertson: What do you call her?
Barry: Her name’s Bob. Her name’s Bobbie, but we call her B-o-b. It’s what we call her.
Craig Robertson: I love that.
Barry: I know. In my mind I was like, I’m gonna go there and stay with her and get back on my feet and drink. She’ll never know, she’s 95. That’s what I thought, and I’ll never forget. Like it was yesterday. This was before Christmas of 2019. I got a good job back in Pharma and was drinking. It’s a miracle I never got a DUI. God just blessed me. I drove around not even DUI or killing somebody, but I’ll never forget her.
I was leaving one morning, and this is crazy to think about, had put vodka in my coffee to get the today going. I was that guy, and I just remember her putting my hand and she was like, you need to find somewhere else to live. I can’t do this anymore. I’m worried about you. I was like, what are you talking about? She’s like, I know how bad you’re drinking. And, it just hit me like a ton of bricks. And she was pretty much the last person that I had not alienated, and she called me out.
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Bill Blair: Hey guys, this is Bill Blair with Rocks and Rivers. We are an adventure-based coaching organization. Brandon Henry and I sitting across from me here, man, we just took a group of guys to Sand Rock, Alabama. Dude, tell ’em about that.
Brandon Henry: Yeah. Incredible. Seeing a group of guys, 15 guys, be able to get up on the rocks, engage life in a new way that is beyond anything they could have imagined, be able to sit around a council fire, share where they were in life, being able to come up with their next steps were what they wanted outta life.
Uh, big living Bill, big living.
Bill Blair: It was definitely big living. The only time those guys were quiet, dude is when they had food in their mouth, and boy, they ate good.
Brandon Henry: For sure.
Bill Blair: It was incredible. Hey, if anybody’s out there, and you’re wondering what your next step is. I’d encourage you to go to rocksandrivers.com/coachingadventures and check out one of our four adventures sign up. We’d love to see you there.
Mandalin: We hope you are enjoying this episode of the Robertson and Easterling podcast. I’m Mandalin, I’m part of the legal team of Robertson and Easterling. If you think you need to speak to one of our attorneys, you can request a consultation from our website or simply call the office. Getting legal help is not only the best way to take control of your future. It will give you the clarity needed to feel better. You owe it to yourself, and more importantly to your children to take initiative. Be brave. And now please sit back and enjoy the second half of our show.
Craig Robertson: So guys, welcome back to the show. I’m here with my dear, long-term friend Barry, and he’s been telling you his story. He talked really he was an athlete, a left-handed pitcher, and when baseball was over he got married to his beautiful college sweetheart who he had known through high school. And they had three kids and life sped up.
And Barry would medicate uncomfortable moments with alcohol. And this exacerbated the normal struggles of life, both with his wife and with his extended family. And it culminated in a divorce. And after he divorced, things got worse. To the point that he went and lived with his precious grandmother, he called Bob, and she looked at him and said you can’t live here anymore. And it was those words from her that set him on the road to recovery. So Barry, pick up the story from there.
Barry: As I mentioned, I alienated pretty much everybody in Clinton and just all my friends. My whole deal and a lot of people, who are dealing with family members, don’t give up on them. Cause if you even remotely think I have a problem. I would cut you out, delete you, block you. I was not gonna be called out. My only suggestion to that: keep trying, just do what you gotta do to get to ’em.
But on that story, So I went to my, we re-referred back to my biological dad. He lives in Laurel still does and did at that time, and I’d really not talked to him. Of course, he had heard how bad I was. And so I went to Laurel, there’s a hotel there, and I don’t know what my intentions were. People have asked me, how bad did you get? Did you ever think about suicide or? And I tell someone that would take too much effort. I mean, there were a lot of nights. I literally sat in a hotel for a week or so and just drank. Did absolutely nothing.
I’ll never forget, I ran to get something to eat one day at lunch. And kind of backstory, my aunt was married to this guy named Mike years ago. They got divorced, and I always liked him, uncle Mike, I’d kind of heard he had been through some things, and it started a treatment facility in Laurel called Mission at the Cross. And I’ll never forget, it’s Subway. There’s a Subway in Laurel, and I turned to look up and there’s this huge like sign it said Mission at the Cross. And I was like, I don’t wanna look at that. And it just was there. I’m a Christian, I was saved when I was 13, and I always tell people. I was like just kinda went away from it, I was a believer, and I still prayed. I prayed about my kids. And even when I was drinking the way I was that’s one thing, I never truly got away from. I think that’s what kind of kept me from doing something selfish in regards to what we talked about ending everything cause I was in a deep depression.
Craig Robertson: That kept you from suicide.
Barry: Yeah, I mean I really.
Craig Robertson: Because you were already medicating yourself heavily.
Barry: Yes. Looking back, I know that, and I just remember man going, so I went back to that Hampton Inn there in Laurel, Mississippi on the highway, I guess it’s 15. And I knelt down and prayed, and I was just like I don’t know what to do man. I gotta get some help, and it was just out of the blue and that was. I guess that was right after Christmas and, I’ll never forget. I remember calling, there was a number on that website, and I left a message. and I said, Hey, this is Barry. I’m looking for Mike. Can you please give him… let him know I need to talk to him? Within 10 minutes, he called me, had not talked to him in 20 years, and we had a discussion. He prayed for me, and he said, why don’t you come in? Let’s talk. And I was like, okay. And so, I waited another seven or eight days. I was just like I can’t do this. I’m just not, I don’t know if I was scared. What am I gonna do? Because this is a year program.
Craig Robertson: Did you spend Christmas in that hotel?
Barry: By myself?
Craig Robertson: By yourself?
Barry: Yeah. 2000. One of the loneliest… not to feel sorry for me. I mean, I did it. But yeah, I spent Christmas 2019 in a Hampton Inn with about a half gallon of vodka and oh man t’s not fun. All three of my kids had basically cut me off like until you get help we’re done, and they meant it.
Craig Robertson: Wow.
Barry: And- but looking back, my dad, my biological dad come to find out that he had talked to my kids, and they were worried about me. It was tough love. He goes until he cares about you three? And until you stand up to him and tell him. I found this out later that he was a reason that he had a lot to do with saving my life. Cause for something, it just kept me motivated. I wanted that relationship back with my kids. I’ll never forget Mike, he’s like be here on Saturday at noon. And I was like, I’m not ready yet. So I cut him out for about a week, and I sat in that hotel room and for some reason, it was a Friday night, and I’ll never forget, I went.
It would’ve been January the 18th cause I checked in on the night. I’ll never forget that. The 19th is my date, my last drink. But he came to the Hampton Inn. I was not there. He’s pretty well connected in the Laurel area. He said look you’ve got till noon to be here on Saturday. And I got up that morning, and I tell people. They’re like. Do you remember going to rehab? I was like not really. I mean, I had drank about a fifth of vodka, but I knew I was done. When I walked in there, I was a wreck. I walked in there weighing 255 pounds, just an absolute train wreck. I was on blood pressure medication.
Craig Robertson: Barry, I’m fascinated. I’ve never heard your story this way, but I’m sure there was some feeling of abandonment from your biological dad, and then it was your biological dad who-
Craig Robertson: Came to your rescue-
Barry: Man, it’s so cool. I’ll never forget that he was there cause I went to rehab Mission at the Cross. It’s one of these that, it’s a year-long program. You can come and leave anytime you want. It’s interesting, I wrote down the year I was there. I wanna say it was 97 guys that I met who came through those doors and left and never finished. And the day I graduated is me and three other guys. I’m really good friends with. We’re still in touch. All of us are sober, and we’re all in different parts of the country, but we literally text each other every morning. But we’re the four. That’s for a whole, I mean, you think of a year, you’re like, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but there it is.
Craig Robertson: What I heard you say was you drank a fifth of vodka and you showed up.
Craig Robertson: At showed up at the rehab, but talk about the daily life. In that particular recovery center.
Barry: Real quick, I wanna revisit what you said about my biological dad. Cause you’re right, he was the only one in my corner at that time, and I’ll never forget him looking at me the night I went in. I mean, I walked in no clothes, and he had brought me some stuff that I had at our family farm. And I just remember him looking at me.
He’s a tough guy. Grew up in the oil well, and he played baseball. Hadn’t seen him cry very many times. And he just looked at me, he goes, I’ll say this to you. I was not there for you when you were a child and a kid and a lot of your life, but I’m gonna be here for you through this, and we’re gonna finish this.
And I was just in a big time, I was like, wow. And he never wavered that year, but anyways now he was stern ’cause there were a few times I was like I’m done I’m ready to leave. I’m sorry to go back on that, but I just-
Craig Robertson: That’s okay.
Barry: I just needed to say that about him. Yeah, cause he’s had a lot of I guess a lot of anger towards him.
Craig Robertson: Sure.
Barry: But cause I just never I’m like I’ve got kids. How do you not wanna be involved with your kids? But that wasn’t the whole total truth? And, but we’re great now, man. It’s awesome. So anyway, Mission at the Cross it’s a guy named Richard Hendricks started it. Hendricks Sign Company. I did not fit in there? You wouldn’t think, I mean it’s a motorcycle ministry. I mean guys tatted up, I’ve never even rid a motorcycle in my life, and I go in but I knew Mike, who was my uncle, and he had been sober. He went to this place and was the director now. Has been sober, gosh 21, 22 years. You go in for like an interview, and they turned some people down and fortunately, I think it helped me knowing him, and it was like an interview process.
It went from a six-month program right before, I went to a year, and I just remember sitting there it’s like I can’t take a for a year. It doesn’t cost a dime, which is great. I tell people that. But you will work. I mean, you have a job. They’ve got a motorcycle shop you work at when you first get there. I’m never- Craig. You know me. I’m not a construction guy. First day I got there, two days I got there. They put me with like these guys who were building houses, and I was like, I have no idea. I didn’t even know how to really use a measuring tape or anything. That just wasn’t me, you know? But I learned so much and it’s almost, you know, when you get to Mississippi State or you’re playing. We all know our strength coach, and that it was like they’re trying to run you off, but they’re really not? They just want to break you down.
Craig Robertson: So they did that physically with construction work?
Barry: Yeah just physically, they would. And it was so cool cause they take you out of your element.. They could have easily I’ve been in sales my whole life.
Craig Robertson: You’ve been in a doctor’s office as a college graduate
Barry:There’s a motorcycle shop over there, who you can sell. It would’ve been easy for them to stick me over there. I’ve been great. But they knew, they were like, we’re gonna take him out of his comfort zone see really how serious he is about this. I did that for two or three months while I was there. Just got to be with some- met some incredible people, some dear friends. A good friend of mine who’s a pastor. I just met some credible just mentors, who have just helped me on, helped me through that. I mentioned it’s a year program. It’s the hardest- we had to be up every morning, six o’clock devotion seven days a week, no TV. There was one TV there. I probably watched a total of two hours of TV in a year. Read a lot of books -a lot of books. You sent me three of ’em. I remember, when I first got there and read those books.
Craig Robertson: What’s the takeaway, Barry? And now looking back. What was the thing about that community that saved your life?
Barry: It’s a Christian-based recovery, and I like to say you get a double dose of the Holy Ghost if you go to the Mission at the Cross. I was a believer, and I had tried some other things for recovery. I tell people I was like not one thing is right. Whatever you can do to stay sober, whatever helps you. I know for me it was being in the Bible every day, and I still do it. I just, and I was that guy too, Craig. Not to get all theological, but you’re like read your Bible. And I was like, what do I read? I don’t understand it. But one of the biggest, best pieces of advice I got when I was there, it was like before you whether it’s in the morning, I like to get up in the morning and do a devotion or read the Bible. That’s just when I do it. But pray before you do it. And I was like, what are you talking about? Pray a good friend of mine told me he is like pray and ask God. Like, Hey, show me something in this Bible. And I’m telling you it’s amazing. You can sometimes just open it up, and so I started doing that. I encourage people to do that, and it’s amazing how that kind of works for me. But a lot of people do 12-step recovery AA meetings, I think those are great.
Craig Robertson: But for you it was wisdom. Reading wisdom.
Barry: Wisdom and surrounding myself with people that hold me accountable. I’ve got some good friends of mine that will call me out. Talked to a good friend of mine yesterday. Hey, meet me for lunch. I knew he didn’t want to go talk. He wanted to look at me in my eyes. Right. I mean, I can do it now. I can look at people. Oh, I haven’t been drinking. I mean, I can look at you and tell.
Craig Robertson: I’m hearing you say hard work, reading wisdom, community
Craig Robertson: Accountability.
Craig Robertson: And I mean, you were at rock. Christmas day with a bottle of vodka, and Bob looks at you and says before that look, man, you can’t live here anymore.
Barry: Yeah, it was, but that’s what I needed. I never was that. It’s funny, somebody’s asked me about my two boys. I have one, my oldest one, he’s the one you could yell at. Hey, you know, you need to do better. And then my youngest one, you could tell if you yelled at him. He just was totally different. But he was the one that like I’m disappointed in you. I was a lot like, I don’t care if you’re disappointed in me.
I need to be yelled at and be called out on the carpet and Mission at the Cross did that. You were held accountable. We were, and I dealt with- and Craig, this is funny, not funny, but where I grew up, I had never really seen drugs like meth and a lot of this stuff. And I was just like, what? And some of two of my best friends now, recovering guys, one was a master’s degree teaching in college, another guy works construction, never graduated high school. But it affects so many people just whether you have money, don’t have money, educated, not educated. And another good friend of mine that I met was recovering alcoholic. Kind of the same story I have.
Craig Robertson: What did you learn about yourself during that year?
Barry: For me, it helped me to just unplug and just learn that I am still good enough. I just was embarrassed. I was like people are gonna find out I’m in rehab. And I mean, I was fine there, but Craig, to be honest with you still, this has been almost three years. When we talked, and you asked me about it, and for a second I was like that’s not fair. It’s not fair to other people. It’s not fair to what I was given not to share it. I don’t run around and talk about Hey man don’t be- if I see any of y’all out in a restaurant, and you’re drinking. I’m not gonna come up to you and say, Hey, you shouldn’t be drinking. You know what I mean? It’s just, I-
Craig Robertson: Well, but what I’m hearing you say is there was a deep level of shame associated.
Barry: Absolutely. Some days I still deal with it, and that’s part of the learning process. And that’s okay. Cause I look back, I’ve got a great job now, am dating a great girl, but I look back, I’m like, Look at all the time I wasted on things. But it’s just like, man, I think this is where I tie baseball into it. I just that game is a game of failure. Craig you hit, if you strike out, and you just sit in the dugout and pout, it’s over. Nobody’s gonna feel sorry for you.
It’s just like me. I look back, and sometimes I may have wasted seven or eight years of my life, but you know what? I’m happy now. I’m sober. I’m in a good church dating a great Christian woman. All three of my kids, we all three talk on a daily basis, and I just choose to move forward.
Craig Robertson: You know, that’s really wisely put Barry. That baseball is a game of failure. If you hit 300, you’re in the hall of fame. No doubt. Sometimes life is a game of failure. Also, it sounds like you went through a little bit of a slump. But you found a place where you received the tough love and community that you needed and accountability. And you move forward from that place, and you’re a new man because of it.
Barry: I agree. And it’s funny that you say the slump. There’s a coach that you and I played for that it’s amazing, who reached out to me about every has still to this day, really doesn’t have any idea how found out I was in Laurel, Mississippi, but would reach out to me about every other month checking on me. I do get a little emotional about that cause. He’s a good guy. We were talking about. He still checks up on me all the time. It’s amazing.
It was the hardest- I’ve done a lot of hard things sports-wise, but that year at Mission at the Cross was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the most gratifying. It saved my life. Somebody asked me another day. What would you? Would you go back and change that? I’m like, I don’t think I would be sitting here right now. I would’ve just kept going and going and it’s definitely made me stronger. They’ll call me, and it’s in Laurel, but sometimes they’ll call me. Hey we got another guy coming in here, alcoholic. Alcohol people are dealing with alcohol. It is pretty simple. They’re either crying about it, or they’re mad, and they wanna fight you. That’s the two you get. I’ve had some funny conversations that guys wanting threatened to beat me up, and Why are you here? And I like to keep a- I’ve got a photo, when I do talk to those guys the day I checked in that place, and I’ll just show it to ’em.
They’re like, who is that? I was like, that’s me. They’re like, what? I was like I did a year, or they hate it when you say did a year, but I spent a year here, and I walked in here broken. I’m talking about nothing. Probably had thousand dollars to my name, and I’m slowly but surely was able to get it back and still every day learning man.
It’s a process. I talked to another mentor the other day, and if you get cocky and they’re like, we talk about that sports if you get a little cocky and arrogant even with this. I’m still guarded. There are situations I don’t put myself in. Again, I don’t have a problem with people drinking around me at first.
I just know that there are just some situations that I don’t need to be in, and there’s some unfortunate, some great friendships that I’ve kind of had to leave by the wayside, but the great people, and we’ve talked, and it’s just at the end of the day, my kids and staying sober is what matters to me. Some tough decisions have to be made, to keep that.
Craig Robertson: Well Barry that’s all the time that we have today, man. But I just wanna tell you, number one, how proud I am of you.
Barry: Thank you. Thank you.
Craig Robertson: And the bravery and vulnerability that it takes to share what you just shared.
And the little bit that I’ve learned in the 20-plus years of being a divorce lawyer and doing my own work is that’s where healing is from telling your story.
Craig Robertson: And telling your story- And telling your story. And I know that someone has heard your voice today that’s gonna be touched by your story.
Barry: Thank you, Craig. And I just wanna say one last thing. I was that guy if you have somebody went to rehab, you didn’t know what to say. You’re like, do you avoid that person? If you don’t know what to say, man, just tell ’em you’re praying for him, and don’t ever ignore a person because you just you don’t know. Craig, I mean, you’re included, and you’re I’ll never forget you sent me that FedEx, and I was like, what is it? How did he know why I was here? I think I told you I was going, but. And I just remember opening it up. I still have the note in my office, and you were like hang in there. But you don’t forget things like that. And there’s several guys thatv-some of the toughest guys- I ever played ball with. Who I see crying like, man, we’re proud of you. But anyway, I wanna thank you for your friendship.
Craig Robertson: Man. That’s… thanks.
Barry: And there’s a lot of good dudes that we have mutual friends that just keep me going every day. So, love you brother.
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